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Ramping new sales hires quickly is one of the most important things a sales manager can do. It’s also frequently overlooked as managers get pulled into activities more directly related to making the number for the month or the quarter. When it comes to saving the quarter or saving the new hire, most managers will save the quarter every time.
The result is that new hires are thrown into a sink or swim situation, forced to onboard themselves into an organization and process they don’t know. In the end, many good people sink.
Here are three things every manager should do to get new hires productive quickly and maximize their hiring success rate:
Adopt them into the tribe.
No two companies sell alike. Although there are many techniques that are used across all sales organizations, each one has special tips and tricks that make the difference between muddling along and crushing your number. This “tribal knowledge” is what the top reps share with each other over drinks after the QBR, or as side comments during the weekly meetings.
Sales people routinely report that the company provided sales training isn’t helpful for learning these things. Formal training will tell them about products, pricing and sales tools. But it won’t convey the sales secrets that the top reps know.
New sales hires need to be connected with seasoned, successful sales people as quickly and deeply as possible. Put lunches on their calendars and send them out of the office. Have the best prospecting reps Bcc new hires on emails so they can see what’s working. Schedule periodic Q&A and brainstorming sessions. Your organization has incredibly valuable knowledge. Don’t make new hires re-invent the wheel.
Watch the numbers while not watching the numbers.
Nothing is more demotivating for sales people than being held to activity metrics. Telling new hires they have a quota for placed calls or sent emails is akin to telling them they don’t know how to do their job. In the end, the only quota that matters is marked with a dollar sign, and to succeed, they’ll need to find the way to get there.
At the same time, everyone knows that it is the base line activities that drive sales success. How many leads did they follow up on? How many prospects are they engaging with? If a new hire has a rough onboarding or feels lost, their activity levels may not get to where they need to be. As a manager, you need to get them up the ramp.
Managers should take a holistic view of new hire activities. Don’t focus on emails and dials. It isn’t just how much work they’re doing, but how that effort is working for them. Are they getting responses at the expected rate? Are they balancing activities the same way the top reps are? Have they learned what works?
If what they’re doing isn’t working, telling them to work harder is simply bad management. To get them up the ramp, you do need to know how hard they’re working, and that’s where numbers can help. But it’s more important to make sure the effort is effective.
Make sure they’re seeing early success.
Depending on how long the sales cycle is, a person may take weeks or months to actually close a deal. People want to feel successful, and if the only “success” they can get is a closed win, they might lose motivation or get lost.
Managers can help them by setting success milestones along the road to winning deals. These are measurable, achievable targets that are meaningful for building the business. For example, early milestones might be as simple as adding some number of new opportunities to the pipeline, or engaging with a number of individuals at accounts that might buy. Managers noticing and celebrating these milestones lets the person know they’re on the right path and that they’ll get there. And if the person isn’t hitting the milestones, this becomes an early warning that more action is needed to help the person make it.
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